Confession: Making Masturbation a Sensation

photo by sebilden

Our contributor Abby Spector, who is majoring in Feminine/Gender/Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, has a confession to make:

I remember the day well. I was twelve and had stayed home from school. “I feel sick,” I told my parents. I was skilled at feigning illness, especially on days when there were math tests or timed mile runs. All I needed was a warm towel and a whiny voice and the house was mine. I curled up on the couch with a Harry Potter book-on-tape, ready for a day of much-needed relaxation (I was an anxious 6th grader). Ten chapters went by. I was bored.

A Cosmopolitan sat on the coffee table next to me. Every time my sister and I flew we were allowed to buy a magazine at the airport kiosk. Cosmo was her choice. Naturally, I wanted to know what my older, more sophisticated sister found within these glossy pages. “How to Master 69 Every Time!” I opened the magazine expecting to find an article on multiplication with prime numbers. Let’s just say I was confused, intrigued, then pleasantly surprised to learn 69 was not math-related. I read the article three times. After the third, I wouldn’t have needed a warm towel to fake a fever: I was hot all over. Harry Potter was still on. “Then Hermione took Harry to a dragon egg…” The soothing, British voice was white noise. Instinctively, I began masturbating for the first time.

I knew this tingly, shivers-all-over sensation. Playground slides, balance beams and some lucky games of doctor introduced me to the joys of clitoral stimulation. The difference was, those times were by accident. Now I was in control. And boy, was I excited to exercise that control! Three to four times a week I explored the inner-workings of my nether regions, learning what felt good, what felt better and what felt best.

My liberal parents had taught me about masturbation: “Nothing is wrong with feeling good,” my mom said. Upbringing can only go so far. Societal pressures eventually whittle their way into even the most hippy-raised adolescent brain. Boys at my school talked about jerking off and a man on the poster in front of the movie theater had his penis inside of a pie, but what about girls? From what I could tell, normal girls didn’t masturbate. My nightly activity had to remain a secret.

After a while, this sense of secrecy became fun. I felt like I invented female masturbation. No inanimate object was safe from my sex drive: scrubbed cucumbers for penetration; the tip of an unpeeled banana for clitoral stimulation (not the smoothest option, in hindsight); and larger, softer things (stuffed animals, pillows, etc) for the whole-body pleasure of being with another being. I could roll around my bed, my imagination stimulated by the thought of being with someone else. Thanks, Mr. Bear!

When I was fifteen, I went to summer camp (not band camp). One day I was hanging around with a group of girls, just talking about boys and past flings, the typical pre-dinner conversation. Nothing scandalous. That is, until Willow spoke up: “I miss masturbating.” Willow had her eyebrow pierced and played the electric guitar. Her long, red hair was always tied back in a scarf she got at a street fair in Peru with her rocker boyfriend. In other words, Willow was cool. And she masturbated? I was shocked. In response, all the older girls claimed they couldn’t masturbate. “I tried, but I couldn’t get off knowing I was doing it to myself,” they said one after another, as if it were the mantra of the ashamed. I smiled. I had something in common with Willow!

I returned home that summer a raging, Birkenstock-wearing feminist who was prepared to start a sexual revolution. The world needed to know about female masturbation. Little did I know that the world had discovered my secret. Most women gave their vulva some lovin’ on a weekly basis. The problem was that no one talked about it. If not for Willow, I might have remained the silent type, guiltily hiding under my covers to give myself the good ol’ two finger tango.

But I would not be kept silent. I began casually bringing up masturbation in conversation. This was hard.  Everything related to female pleasure seemed off-limits for discussion. At parties I would slip in a comment about how getting fingered from someone else felt so much worse then fingering myself or ask in Ten Fingers (a popular, tell-all drinking game) who in the circle masturbated. Slowly but surely my peers began talking. The masturbation revolution was on a roll.

A couple weeks ago I was talking with one college friend about her nonexistent masturbatory practices. I was shocked and, to tell you the truth, a little saddened by the thought of her lonely vagina. Within seconds we were on our way to Babeland, a sex shop with a branch conveniently located five blocks from my apartment. The goal: a vibrator. When I had gotten my first vibrator for my 18th birthday, I thought I was going to hate the feeling of a plastic phallis shoved into my hoo-ha. Needless to say, I was wrong. Vibrators are the best battery-powered appliance on the market. Thanks to Babeland, Hannah now agrees.

Ten years have passed since I read that article on 69. Harry Potter cassette tapes are no longer my porn of choice. (Although, I’m not going to lie, in my fantasies I still occasionally ride Daniel Radcliff’s broomstick). I am still on a masturbation crusade, convinced that open dialogue would educate women about their bodies and the importance of pleasure. So, readers of the world, pop some bubbly, light some candles and curl up in some clean sheets. It’s time to start loving yourselves!

Abby Spector


  1. You know what I found is the best setting for masterbation? This works for both genders. In the bathroom. Shut the door, maybe some porn (I have a TV in my bathroom) and turn on the shower (So no one enters). Now here’s what I do in this setting. Take off my clothes, lie on your back on the floor (Or shower) and do one of tne folowing:
    1)Rub my cilt in a clockwise motion.
    2) use a vibrator
    3) finger myself
    4) (For beginners) Play with your boobs and fantisize
    5) Or whatever you like.
    6) (Males only) same thing just do the thing males do when they masterbate. I told that to 35 males and they all say it feels awsome!
    7) (Both genders and my personal fav) A pillow! Just rub it on your vaginia (our the base of your penis, if you’re a guy). It feels so good! (Note: there is an option witch is what my brother uses. He takes my clothes, dresses his pillow than takes it in a dark bathroom and has sex with it, witch helps orgasm fast. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS BECA– USE IT IS STRANGE AND MY BROTHER MADE MY WRITE THAT !)

    So those are my tips. Orgasm takes 5-20 minutes, it took me 7
    -Masterbater tipz

  2. The American society has in many ways, condemned women masterbation- as if in some way its, “dirty”, “filthy”, “not normal” etc. All bs, of course. Self-discovery is a never-ending path of beauty and truth. And masterbation happens to be apart of that beauty and truth. There’s no crime in learning about ones self, body, and body parts. Bette Dodson, is a heroine of mine. Forward thinking and boldly fearless in the realm of female masterbation. In my opinion, toys are great. Food items can cause infections, irritations or cuts and scrapes. There’s never a need for shame when exploring and expressing ones desires alone. Power to the ladies!

  3. I love this! I’ve been masturbating since I was 13. I remember reading about the ol’ bathtub technique in a Meg Cabot book and I just had to try it. Let’s just say…fireworks ensued! Ever since then I’ve been sex-positive and very enthusiastic about trying new things. I’ve never discussed it with any of my friends, though. I hope one day we’ll be able to. People need to realize that masturbation isn’t only acceptable for men – women get urges too!

  4. Good for you. As a 4-5 time a week masturbator I applaud you. How do you know what you like in partner sex if you don’t know for yourself. It’s like practice for the big game.

  5. I’m all for it and enjoy a couple times a week, but I still don’t talk to my friends about it. We talk about sex a lot, and male masturbation, but no one has talked about female masturbation except as another activity to do with husband. It’s weird that women are so embarrassed by it. My friends and I have even gone to a sex shop, but we can’t talk about female masturbation? What is wrong with this picture?

  6. Awesome! Only one friend and me talk about masturbation and vibrators. But it’s awesome to be so free about it. I would prefer only to talk about it with close friends, but I totally agree that women should loosen up their sexuality a little bit – then maybe we’d be recognized as human beings with urges and we could finally get rid of the slut-word.

  7. Love it! I can relate on so many levels. I too thought I invented it for a while and in a conversation with a friend who had never orgasmed convinced her to get herself a vibe.
    Nice article.

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